On January 18th, the Omaha Mavericks and South Dakota State Jackrabbits gave the 2,831 spectators a nail biter. I think I spilled my popcorn five times. These two teams came into this matchup with similar records, SDSU at 9-9 and Omaha at 10-9. SDSU held on to a close lead at end of the first half, with a 41-39 advantage. The Jackrabbits started the second half on a 16 to 7 run, increasing their margin to 14 points by the 11:30 minute mark. The Mavericks finally trimmed the deficit to 4 on a three-pointer by Ja’sean Glover. SDSU widened the gap on a Charlie Easley and-one layup, with under 2 minutes to play. Omaha would not go away. With 14 seconds left, Frankie Fidler notched his 4th assist of the night on a three pointer by JJ White. Omaha, down by one, had no choice but to foul. Clutch under pressure, Easley hit both free throws. Marquez Sutton had a chance at a game tying three, but it rimmed out. Zeke Mayo paved the way with 21 points. Easley added 17 points, 9 rebounds and 2 steals. In the hard-fought loss, Fidler and Sutton each contributed 20 points, JJ White scored 17. With the win, SDSU moved just above .500 at 10-9, (3-1 Summit League).
Coming off a hard-fought close win two nights prior, 9-10 USD faced off against 10-9 South Dakota State in a battle of the state of South Dakota, on January 20th, in Vermillion, SD. The Jackrabbits came in winning the last 6 matchups against USD. SDSU controlled the first few minutes of the game, jumping out to a 12-2 commanding lead. The rest of the first half was much of the same, as SDSU finished the half with a 9-2 run. One of the highlights of the first half happened when the Jackrabbits had an 8-point advantage. Luke Appel dribbled up the court and started to back down Mayuom Buom at the free throw line. As soon as he saw his opportunity, he spun to his right, and breezed right past Buom. This sensational move created an easy left-handed scoop, which helped them finish the half with an 11-point lead.
In the second half the Coyotes cut their deficit to 5. USD never seemed to be competitive in this game though. Zeke Mayo displayed his vision, none more evident than when he drove to the hoop, with roughly 12 and a half minutes left. He sliced his way into the paint, and went up for a layup against an outstretched Buom. With Tyrese Haliburton court-vision ability pumping through his brain, at the last second, he dished it underneath Jevon Hill’s arms, and Will Kyle III finished the outstanding play with an easy dunk.
Shortly after, Mayo had the ball at the left side three-point line. With Will Kyle III close by, Zeke passed the rock to him. He then waited for defender, Seth Kramer to switch. As soon as that happened, he performed the give and go to a perfection, as Mayo leaked out to the corner, he drained an open three. These two plays showed the differences in SDSU’s coaching, players decision making, skill and overall athletic ability compared to USD. While USD did show some heart and courage, SDSU simply played better. Mayo scored 20 points, pulled down six rebounds and added five assists. Charlie Easley contributed on both ends of the court, with 19 points and three steals. South Dakota won the game with ease and improved to 11-9, (4-1 Summit League). No player on the Coyotes cracked more than 15 points. Freshman guard, Jevon Hill had 15 points in the loss. USD dropped to 9-11, (2-3 Summit League).